Promoting Safe, Friendly, and Fun Cycling
Whenever somebody asks me what the mission of the Harpeth Bike Club, that’s what I say: We promote safe, fun, and friendly cycling in Middle Tennessee. And as we begin the 2015 prime riding season, I’d like to address just what that means.
You’ll notice that we begin with “safe.” That’s obvious. We’re all responsible for ensuring that we behave ourselves out on the road … and that means behaving ourselves as if we were driving cars instead of bikes, since as cyclists on the road we have the same responsibilities as automobile drivers. We stop at Stop signs and red lights, signal our turns, stay in our lane, and so forth.
And we watch out for one another to ensure that our fellow members stay safe. We point out problems on the road to one another, we stop and help each other when someone has a mechanical issue or gets a flat, and we always pass slower riders with a “Good morning!” or “On your left!”
We’re also safe with cars. Most of our regular routes avoid putting big groups on busy roads when we can, but when we must do this we do what we can to let cars get by. Since most of us also drive cars, we know that it can be frustrating to be stuck going 20 miles under the posted speed limit when we’re trying to get home, or drop our kids off at a soccer game, or do the shopping. If we all play by the rules and show each other courtesy and respect, I believe that we can all safely get where we’re going.
We brings us to “friendly.” We’re nice people, engaged in a common endeavor, and so we take the time to meet new people at Harpeth Bike Club events… introduce them to other members and try to make them comfortable. Almost all of my friends are bike club members, and I try to add more friends on every ride.
Friends pull for one another — both in a paceline beating into a stiff wind, and in off-the-bike day-to-day activities. We may sprint against each other for the town line or the top of the hill, but we would never cut one another off or block them from getting into our group. You may do that in a race, but a Harpeth Bike Club ride is not a race. It’s just a ride.
And that’s what makes the “fun” part. Riding safely with friends, fun is bound to follow. If you’re having a rough day on the bike and your legs get tired, friends will back off with you and get you safely home. When friendly folks get into a spirited ride and the energy level and speed goes up … well, if you like that kind of thing and everyone is riding safely, it can be a lot of fun.
If you’re a member, I hope that you enjoy safe, friendly, and fun cycling. More than that, however, I would ask that you promote all of these things. Make a point of stopping at an intersection, even when that means that you might lose the group of riders ahead of you. If you’re in that group, slow down for a bit to let the rider who stopped catch up. And always save enough energy to smile at other riders as you pass them — and maybe even drivers in cars — or, better yet, wave and wish them a good day.
It’s a group ride, and there’s more fun and safety riding with a group of friends.